The Bible: In the Beginning... (1966)

Genres - Epic  |   Sub-Genres - Religious Epic, Hagiography  |   Run Time - 174 min.  |   Countries - Germany , Italy , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The Bible -- In the Beginning is a fairly stolid and boring retelling of some of the earthiest and most exciting tales in the book after which it is named. Like far too many Hollywood Biblical epics, The Bible treats its subject matter with so much reverence -- whether through genuine admiration or simply through fear of giving offense otherwise -- that the life is simply sapped out of it. Certainly, The Bible has the appropriate visual majesty; its (for the time) huge budget was well spent, with impressive accounts of the Creation, the building of Noah's ark, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But there's not enough energy behind these efforts; while one doesn't think the creation of the entire universe should necessarily be hurried, it does need to move onscreen with a certain sense that it is not being replayed in real time. The film also is extremely earthbound for a project that is detailing the efforts of people to reconnect with the spiritual. Finally, too much of the film relies on narration that repetitively tells us either things we have already been shown or things that we should be shown instead of told. The star-studded cast does what it can, and John Huston is significantly more impressive as Noah than he is as the project's director. George C. Scott and Ava Gardner are fine but rather remote, and Richard Harris is a bit annoying. Only Peter O'Toole joins Huston in rising above the material.